Essential Gear for Winter Bike Commuting

Not every­one quits cycling when the wet and cold sets in; diehards keep the rub­ber to the asphalt all win­ter long by uti­liz­ing these six indis­pens­able pieces of gear to keep them warm, dry and safe.

For you

Rain Jack­et
Most peo­ple have a gen­er­al out­doors rain­coat, which could be used in a pinch for rid­ing in rainy con­di­tions, but to make the most of a sog­gy com­mute, a cycling spe­cif­ic coat is your most impor­tant piece of gear. Unless you want full water­proof­ing and breatha­bil­i­ty, less­er expen­sive fab­rics have upped their per­for­mance in recent years. A sport-spe­cif­ic jack­et will also pro­vide a longer “tail” to keep your rear-end dry, they’ll have a reflec­tive mate­r­i­al to keep you illu­mi­nat­ed to oncom­ing traf­fic, and are hood­less to pre­vent the tun­nel effect of wind blast­ing inside the coat.

Water­proof pants
Where does all that water from your rain­coat go? Run­ning down your legs, of course, there­fore some slick slacks are the next step in stay­ing dry. Make sure that they cinch at the cuff to keep your dri­ve­train from shred­ding them like con­fet­ti (the ubiq­ui­tous reflec­tive ankle bands will also pre­vent this). A pair made specif­i­cal­ly for cycling will have a few more bells and whis­tles, like artic­u­lat­ed knees and more spark­ly tape to help keep you vis­i­ble.

Full fin­gered gloves
Cold hands can be a safe­ty haz­ard (try stop­ping abrupt­ly with frozen dig­its) and just plain uncom­fort­able in the best case sce­nario. Look for a pair that is water and wind­proof and are long enough to cov­er your wrist as well. A pair made for cycling will also have palm sav­ing padding and will be con­struct­ed to with­stand the spe­cif­ic rig­ors of cycling. Bifur­cat­ed “lobster”-style mitts are a must if you live in espe­cial­ly frigid climes.

Booties
While you could go for just toe cov­ers, full cov­er­age booties will pro­vide your feet with head to toe dry­ness and warmth and your hoofs will be hap­py that you kept them in mind on your com­mute. Pair them with a set of wool ath­let­ic socks for the ulti­mate warm dry com­bo.

For your bike

Fend­ers
These sim­ple and typ­i­cal­ly inex­pen­sive addi­tions are must for any wet ride. Even the min­i­mal­ist ver­sions will keep you sub­stan­tial­ly dri­er than with­out and if you can fit a full-length pair on your steed, your chances of arriv­ing at your des­ti­na­tion as dry as pos­si­ble are improved immense­ly.

Head­light
One that actu­al­ly lets you see what’s in front of you, as I’m assum­ing that every cyclist has a set of front and rear blink­ing lights. A dis­lo­cat­ed shoul­der in Octo­ber was a painful reminder for me that actu­al­ly being able to see what’s in front of you these dur­ing the dark com­mute hours of win­ter is no under­rat­ed abil­i­ty.

Now get out and ride.